Lee Janzen caught the golf bug as a teenager in Florida, first winning a tournament at 15. His success continued in college and led him to turn pro in 1986. He made the PGA Tour three years later.
Janzen has eight wins on the Tour, including the US Open in 1993 and 1998, where he bested Payne Steward both times. He also won the Players Championship, an honorary major, in 1995 and contended for the PGA Championship in 1997 before finishing fourth.
CBS Local Sports sat down with Lee Janzen to chat about his experiences on the golf course and growing up.
CBS Local Sports: What is your favorite golf course and why?
Janzen: Anything Crenshaw and Coore have done over the last 10 years. Every time I play one of their courses it’s just fantastic. I recently played one in Nevada that just opened which was great. Streamsong in Florida was fantastic. Old Sandwich up in the northeast was great. Also, anything Seth Raynor and Charles McDonald have done. Fisher’s Island, as far as the most enjoyable day playing golf, might be where I’ve had the most fun. They have always been enjoyable days.
CBS Local Sports: What is your favorite hole and why?
Janzen: The sixth hole at Pebble Beach. I marvel at that hole because there was not one bit of dirt moved to build that hole. It’s such a unique hole. As you walk down the fairway you can see the green and that’s when you need to line up your second shot because when you get down the hill you don’t know where to hit it because you can’t see up the hill. There’s a little saddle that’s been cut out in the fairway so if you drive the ball in the proper spot and you hit it straight through there it goes right to the middle of the green. It’s just a unique little design feature that Jack Neville put in there. It’s stuff the old designers used to do that seems to be lost in today’s world because they can move so much dirt and create whatever they want. A little mound here or there could give you direction. It’s a reachable par-five and it can play so differently one day to the next. You can hit 3-wood off the tee or you can hit a hybrid if it’s downwind and have an iron to the green and the next day you’re struggling to hit a 3-wood up to the top level. And the views, where it sits right on the ocean, are spectacular.
CBS Local Sports: How did you first get interested in golf?
Janzen: All I did was ride motorcycles and play baseball in Maryland before moving to Florida in my seventh-grade year. Summer came around and baseball season was over and there was no place to ride my dirt bike so I got dropped off at the golf course for the junior clinic and made friends with the guys that played every day. They invited me to play and I was absolutely terrible. I mean, I lost balls and shot 130, but there was some point where I got the bug and improved rapidly. I remember when I was 14 playing in tournaments and I shot 100 two tournaments in a row. When I was 15 I broke par and won a tournament. I improved very rapidly not long after I took up the game. When you see improvement, that also wants to make you play.
CBS Local Sports: Who has had the biggest influence on your golf career and why?
Janzen: That’s a good question. I always listened very intently to advice from other players from the generation before me but I would say Tony Robbins probably had the biggest impact on my career. I saw one of his commercials on television and bought his tape series and what it did for me was it gave me direction of how to focus my attention on what I needed to do. I began writing a plan on how to set goals and accomplish them so I had something to focus on. A lot of people have an idea of what they want to do, they just don’t know how to get there. It was really good for me to figure out a way to get there. Every day I had something specific in mind when I practiced.
CBS Local Sports: What’s the biggest moment in your career to date and why?
Janzen: After my first U.S. Open victory I went from obscurity to being recognized. I went to a Yankee game and no one had ever recognized me off the golf course before and someone recognized me and that was just odd to me. That changed after that win. I would say the bigger win was the second U.S. Open victory because it validates the first one. The first one changed my life more but the second one was more satisfying.
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